The Irish West Coast: Connemara, Galway and the Cliffs of Moher

I’ve heard sometimes that magic exists in some places. But I’m not that kind of eccentric people. I’m more of the skeptical ones.

On my way around the Irish country I met people who did believe in fairies or leprechauns or some other little figures of fantasy, and despite the fact that I didn’t believe in any of them I smiled whenever someone talked about magical worlds.

After visiting the West Coast landscapes, this time in the province of Connaught, I had to take back my words and thoughts, and say there must be some kind truth in everything those people said.

If Ireland taught me something is that magic doesn’t only live in the things we cannot see, but also and probably even more in the places we are surrounded by. Because even though I couldn’t find elves running around the mountains, I could feel the spirit of nature, and in places like those I was sure that the world was showing me its own magic.

  1. Connemara, Co. Galway

1_5 1_17 1_26

Despite what people think, Connemara is not Galway, it is just a part of it, and even though you can visit it with any of the Irish tourist companies (I went on a trip with paddywagontours), I would highly recommend to rent a car and make a road trip around its most iconic towns to be able to visit everything you want taking your time.

All the villages and towns are coastal, and their beaches facing the Atlantic Ocean inspire us to imagine the immensity of this site where we live and think that fronteers are actually unreal.

Apart of the common animals, like goats and sheeps that go around the whole country, there is something in this place everyone talks about and it is the flowers you can luckily find around. Little yellow wild flowers that appear from under the ground, like if they would try to hide themselves under the crevices on the ground.

And if you are looking for big and victorian castles to dream you’re living in the past, spend a day at the Connemara National Park, where you’ll be able to see all these things I mentioned together in one same place.

2. Galway, Co. Galway

 1_451_61 1_57

Galway, with its more or less 75.400 population, is the big city of the whole county.

There is this song called “The Galway Girl” that talks about the amazing experience a man lives with a girl from this place, and that story is made possible because of the wonderful city in which he is staying at that moment, the city of Galway.

It is a place where you can find anything and will never get lost, where you can go shopping, eat the best fish and chips of the entire country in the traditional restaurant Mc Donagh’s, walk across the seaside, see the seagulls flying to the call of the sun, and enjoy the night as you have never before, listening to the folk music of the pubs and meeting people from all over the world.

A fishing city to learn about its own history of fishermen and their captain Nicholas, who names both of the cathedrals of the Galway.

And after all, a city to breath the smell of pure nature, the scent of the sea and the charm of beautiful people.

3. Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare

1_87 1_144

The cliffs of Moher have the most astonishing views of the whole county of Clare.

An hour and thiry minutes worthy drive around coastal towns from the city of Galgay, brings you to a walk of around 8km that follows the amazing landscapes of cliffs that even get to reach the height of 214m.

Honestly, I hadn’t seen anything like that before, and it made me think how small we are compared with the immensity of the world and how unaware we are sometimes of its wonders.

Anyway, you have to be lucky to go to visit the cliffs a day without fog, otherwise you won’t be able to see much further than what is on your side.

But you will always be able to hear the sound of the birds, the water crashing with the huge rocks. You will the feeling of being in such immensus space, the feeling that magic does exist and you will realize that we see it every day in the wonders of this world, and you will be more likely to find it in wonders of the Irish West Coast.

Advertisements

5 East Coast towns near Dublin, Ireland

Leinster is the east province of Ireland formed by 12 counties and as well, the most populated of the four provinces in the whole country. Its frontiers were set by Oliver Cromwell, the English politician who leaded the English Commonwealth during the mid 1650’s. Today, Leinster consists of a part of the heritage that is still left and and we can see in it the remainders and present evidences of the Irish beauty.

These five towns, the most of them by the sea, reveal the outside and the inside of the country, the marvellous views of nature and the immensity of the Ocean that can be seen from the most splendid corners you can imagine.

  1. Dun Laogharie, Co. Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown

IMG_7303s Dun Laoghaire is located 11 km South of the city of Dublin, and if you go there once you will definitely want to come back. It is a coastal town where you can easily find ships and lighthouses. Apart of being considered the “Gateway of Ireland”, Dun Laoghaire is famous for the years in which the great author James Joyce and his mate Gogarty lived in today’s James Joyce Tower and Museum, getting inspiration from the background that surrounded them and the atmosphere they could breath.

Besides, every Sunday there is an international food market where you will have the chance to try dishes from all around the world, and especially from Ireland. Don’t leave that market if you haven’t tried their blueberry scones unless you don’t want to spend the rest days of your life trying to get them again!

 2. Killiney, Co. Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown1_23p

Killiney is a rich town located in the suburbs of Dun Laoghaire.

The amenity of this place is the walk around the big houses of the town until you arrive to the beginning of the hill that you can walk to the top, stare at the immensity of the sea and contemplate the obelisk that reminds the history of Ireland in the 1700’s.

In the heart of the town, after you walk around the picturesque buildings, there is a view point that allows you to watch the sea from far away and if you’re lucky you’ll probably find seals laying on the sand of the beautiful island that looks after Killiney.

3. Glendalouh, Co. Wicklowb98

This is the only town of the five wich is not by the sea, but this doesn’t take away the beauty of the place, probably it is what makes it so special. It is considered one of the most beautiful destinations in Ireland.

This town was set in the 6th century by St. Kevin and that is the reason why it is considered a pilgrimage site. Its name which actually means “The valley of the two lakes” already encourages us to visit it as it is in itself a very beautiful landscape you can’t miss if you are of these kind of people who like to walk around mountains, or those who like to see the pure water of the lakes and breath the smell of nature.

4. Bray, Co. Wicklow

Bray is considered the “Brighton of Ireland” or the Irish beach destination, if you dare to swim in the freezy waters of a North Sea country.

In past years it was a fishing town, but from the XVIII century many people from Dublin started to settle down in this town, and today even though it is a town, it can be seen as a city because of the amount of things there are to do.

As in many Irish towns there is a cliff walk, but there are museums, an art centre, and many places to go during the day but also at night.

5. Howth, Co Fingal1_32

This is the place to go if you don’t have time to visit the cliffs of Moher in Galway, and although the height cannot be compared, the coastal walk in this beautiful town will leave you completely breathtaking.

The houses, the shops and the famous fish restaurants immersed in this green and yellow landscape create a place to spend a perfect day and a perfect location where you will always want to go back.

The Cathedrals’ Beach, how to become part of nature in Galicia, Spain

Sometimes, to visit some places, reflection is mandatory. Feeling par of the Earth and be aware of how vulnerable we are towards it.

1IMG_20140804_164501

That was exactly what I experienced when I visited the Playa de las Catedrales (The Cathedrals’ Beach), a tiny part of nature that surrounds us still in a wild way.

In the town of Lugo, specifically in the village of Ribadeo we can find the Cathedral’s Beach. Its name, that originally is Playa de Aguas Santas (Beach of Saint Waters), is due to the aesthetic that show the huge eroded rocks by the salty water and the strength of the wind. These arches, that remind us to the fabulous Gothic cathedrals, we only can stare at them when the tide is low.

It is curious, however, how the landscape changes if we look at it when the tide is high, we could say that it deals with a completely different beach covered with cliffs above the sea.

When the tide is low we can have access to the beach of immense fine sand and walk around the arches, some of them even of thirty meters high. In those moments, you can feel the immensity of nature, the power that it has and how tiny we are among so much majesty. Going into their natural caves is a real pleasure, the temperature lowers and for a few seconds you can feel the peace that prevades between their corners rocking by the breeze and the melody of the sea.

3IMG_20140804_111604

2IMG_20140804_165740

Wander around the Beach of the Cathedrals is to feel oneself small, is to feel the greatness of Nature and be aware of all the beauty that surrounds us, but also is to be aware of its strength and power that it has.

4IMG_20140804_163011

It is about, merely, a spectacular place inside of the wonderlands that Galicia confines.

Two photo exhibitions to visit this summer in Madrid

1. Las Reglas del Juego (The rules of the game) by Chema Madoz:

IMG_9613

Chema Madoz is a Spanish photographer from Madrid, famous for of his black and white surrealist photographs.

In this exhibition, following his own style, Chema Madoz changes the meaning of the the things to provide a deeper significance.

This artist photographs “the portrait of an idea” creating poetry from his works: A cloud can be the top of a tree, a protractor becomes a rainbow over the sea, a railway turns into a watchband… and the list keeps growing until reaching the collection of 124 photos.

A particularity in his work is the lack of titles, but once you see any of his pictures you understand the reason, and it is because you don’t need words to understand what he means. The saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” finds here its biggest and best example.

Mixing these artworks with the “Sala Alcalá 31”, the minimalist and beautiful place in which they are exposed, built among the years 1935 and 1943, art and architecture collaborate to create a whole space of beauty, simplicity and deep meaning creating poetry individually and in their entirety.

2. Vogue Like a Painting:

IMG_9614

The name of this exhibition says everything you need to know.

In “Vogue like a Painting” the artworks of some of the best photographers of the moment that remain classic paintings are exposed together in this gallery.

Ermin Blumenfeld, Patrick Demarchelier, Nick Knight, Annie Leibovitz, Peter Lindebergh, Paolo Roversi and Tim Walker among many other great artists give life to this exhibition in the Museo Thyssen moving us to other moments and latest fashions.

The special particularity of these photos is that, despite of their modernity, they have a romantic appealing evoking other times, other customs and other styles, but especially that everything, the colour, the spaces, the backgrounds and the models tell wonderful and mysterious stories that keep us looking at every detail of the images.

IMG_9623

The Black Lake, a place in Soria, Spain, to feel the silence and enjoy the peace

The Black Lake is a magic place located at 1700 meters high of glacier lagoon, set above the Urbion slopes and the source of the Duero river, among the towns of Vinuesa and Covaleda, both in Soria.

san1

Even before you arrive to the place you can start feeling that peace and calm that evokes the site of trees and forestal paths. Once arrived there, you feel as if you were in another world, completely far away from reality and the din of cities. It is a place to find yourself and liberate your mind and spirit, it is a place to enjoy its own immensity, a place to forget about everything of your daily life and charge yourself with positive energies.

A dark lake, fascinating and enigmatic, related in legends that forms one of the most beautiful landscapes that I have ever seen. The certain reason for its dark and gloomy look is because of the reflection above the surface of the huge rocks that fence it.

san4

The vegetation of the whole place consists of trees like the beech, the oak, the birch, the poplar and the pine, which is the king of the land. All of them form big forests that go to the side of the lake, making from that place something even more magical.

To facilitate the walk to the visitors there is a fenced walk that, even though takes away some of the beauty of the nature and wilderness of the place, it is the perfect way to visit safely the whole site.

If you want to stay the night, a good accommodation is “El Morendal”, a touristic place located in a town called Almarza, in the province of Soria. The town has nothing special for my liking but that characteristic firewood smell of the small towns and the deafening silence that evolves you and moves you to a far place inside of your own thoughts.

san7

san5 san6

The tourist spot is absolutely recommendable, it is a lovely and cozy place. From the moment you enter you already you fall in love with the smell, the relaxing music that exudes an inexplicable peace. It has a very small spa, for one person or a couple, which makes it even more special.

Its closeness to the famous and mysterious Black Lake makes both places and their proximities a lovely area you shouldn’t miss.

san2

The Andalusian poet Antonio Machado felt so much love for Soria that immortalized it with his popular poem “The land of Alvargonzález”:

The two murderers
reach Laguna Negra,
transparent and still water,
an enormous wall of stone
where the vultures nest
and echo sleeps and circles;
bright water where the eagles
of the sierra drink,
where the wild mountain boar,
stag and doe drink together.
Pure and silent water
copies eternal things.
The indifferent water holds
the stars in its heart.
“Father,” they scream. Down
to the bottom of the serene pool
they fall. The echo father!
booms from boulder to boulder.

A. Machado.